Man who arranged to rape child has been jailed
A man who had unknowingly been speaking to police when he was arranging to meet a child to rape has been jailed.
Joseph Hopkinson, aged 39, travelled by train from Leicester to Cheltenham in August last year intending to rape a 10-year-old.
He had in fact been communicating with officers from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) who work to identify and investigate dangerous offenders targeting children online.
When Hopkinson arrived at Cheltenham railway station on 17 August he was arrested by waiting officers.
He was charged the following day and has remained behind bars since then.
The investigation, which involved Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Indecent Images and Child Sexual Exploitation teams working in partnership with the SWROCU, has resulted in Hopkinson being jailed for seven years and two months.
He had been charged with arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, being concerned in the production of cannabis and possession with intent to supply cannabis.
Hopkinson, of St James Road in Leicester, denied the offences and was due to stand trial at Exeter Crown Court on 13 February. However, he changed his pleas to guilty on what was meant to be the first day of his trial.
At Gloucester Crown Court on Tuesday (18 April) he was sentenced to seven years and two months for arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, namely the rape of a child under 13.
Hopkinson was also sentenced to nine months for each of the drugs offences, to run concurrently. He had been in possession of cannabis at the time of his arrest and cannabis plants were found when his home address was searched by Leicestershire Police.
He was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Detective Inspector Simon Goodenough, from the Constabulary’s Child Sexual Exploitation & Indecent Images of Children teams said: “Hopkinson has a clear sexual interest in children and was intent on causing them significant harm.
“He spent months communicating with the police operative about abhorrent things he was wanting to do to young children, and it was evident that he was planning to carry out his vile thoughts and ideas.
“We are determined to protect and safeguard children, and work tirelessly with our colleagues in the SWROCU to pursue sexual predators who are intent on causing those who are most vulnerable in our society harm.”
Detective Inspector David Wells, from SWROCU’s Online Investigations Team, said: “There is no doubt Hopkinson posed a serious threat to children and the sentence handed to him reflects that.
“SWROCU continues to be relentless in its pursuit of offenders like Hopkinson who operate online with the intention of exploiting and abusing children.”
If you have concerns about your own use of the internet or inappropriate thoughts or behaviour about children, or you are worried about how someone you know behaves, then contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.